I’ve never been one for thrift shopping. Something about the scent of vintage clothes is incredibly off-putting to me. Although I’ve trawled Dongmyo like so many other fashion lovers in Seoul, the only thing I’ve ever gotten from a vintage store has stayed in my closet unworn. I love buying second-hand from apps such as Karrot or Beongae Jangteo though, so what is it about vintage stores?
One day in Seongsu, I happened across a thrift store called Market in U. I recognized it at first glance – it’s been a favorite haunt of some of the more prominent fashion influencers in Seoul. So, I decided to give it a chance and step in.
Market in U is relatively large for a vintage store and quite well-organized. The countless racks that line the room are organized first by type, material, and then color. Outerwear lines the right side of the room. Then clothing is separated neatly into categories like floor-length coats, tweed jackets, leather blousons, and letterman jackets reminiscent of college sports teams.
The knitwear racks are closest to the door; perhaps on purpose, due to the turning of the season. The Hawaiian shirts that are classic summer vintage fare are kept near the back of the store. There is so much variety in color and shapes that it is hard to believe that anyone would walk out empty-handed. With so many options, there must be one thing in there for you.
The sentiment rang true for me, at least. Outerwear is always expensive and the first thing I invested in after coming to Korea was the quintessential Korean staple: the black long padding. Coming from a tropical country, I figured that it was most likely to keep me warm in extreme weather.
What I’d not planned on was how childish it can look – the words 얼죽코 ( coats even in the life-threatening cold) and the delegation of the long padding trend to school-going children suddenly started making sense. No matter how well you dressed underneath it, wearing long padding over would reduce you to looking like a high-schooler, by virtue of relation. I’d slowly padded up my winter wardrobe by introducing a fur-lined, short leather jacket to my collection. But, I’d set my sights on buying a long coat that would help me escape the childishness of long padding added to my image this year.
I’d worried slightly, as coats are always expensive, but Market in U had the answer. I found a beautiful pinstripe, double-breasted 80% wool coat from Ralph Lauren hanging hidden on the rack, with a price tag of only 65,000won. The shoulders and length fitted me perfectly. One button was broken, but it had come with spares. It was perfect, and it didn’t even have that off-putting vintage smell I’d come to loathe. I asked a few choice questions. I was still a newbie at the practicalities of winter fashion. Then, I paid the unbelievable price and went on my merry way.
Of course, I had to make a beeline straight to the tailors’ to replace the button and get a round of dry-cleaning. But, afterward, the coat was as good as new. I now regard it as a beautiful yet practical addition to my wardrobe.
For those wary of vintage clothing like me: I would definitely suggest buying outerwear as a start. Having layers between my skin and the garment helps with shaking the nauseating feeling the vintage smell evokes in me. And, once you dry-clean the garment, there should be no problems at all. Make sure to check for any defects, and to be particular about fit, especially the parts that are hard to tailor.
I’d learned my lesson: Give vintage shopping a try, and you might just find a gem at no heavy expense to your wallet. That’s a win-win I’d celebrate any day!
Market in U Seongsu (마켓인유 성수) Address: 166 Achasan-ro, Seongsu 2(i)-ga 3(sam)-dong, Seongdong-gu, Seoul Korean Address: 아차산로166 (성수역 3번출구 직진5분) Opening Hours: 11:00 AM - 08:00 PM
Want to learn more about thrifting in Seoul? Click Here to learn about Korea’s largest outdoor flea market at Dongmyo!